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17 January 2010 - Convention Hallway Talk

It's convention time for the many organizations that represent farmers and ranchers, general farm organizations as well as the specific commodity groups that meet during the winter season. I enjoy attending these gatherings, listening to various speakers and interviewing officials and members. But one of my favorite activities is to walk the hallways in the meeting room area and listen to the hallway conversations because that gives me a pretty good feeling of the hot-button issues.

It didn't take very long walking the hallways at the American Farm Bureau Convention in Seattle this month to learn the No. 1 issue in the minds of Farm Bureau members. Time and again I heard the words Global Warming, Climate Change and Cap & Trade, as well as EPA rules and regulations. Their feelings were summed up well by one farmer who said "If the world needs food, why don't they let us farm without slapping us with unreasonable rules and regulations. We are good stewards of our environment and were caring for the air, water and soil long before a lot of people even knew how to spell ‘conservation' and we are getting better at it every day." Another farmer told me directly "Keep reminding your audience every week, "No Farms, No Food'."

Producers were especially riled by the USDA suggestion late last year that eventually U.S. farmers should take 60-millions acres out of corn and soybean production and plant trees to improve air quality."Ridiculous, that makes no sense at all" were the words used by AFBF President Bob Stallman when I interviewed him. He said with the U.N. calling for a doubling of global food production to feed the growing population, it would be wrong to take the world's most efficient food producers and their acreage out of production. Illinois Farm Bureau President Phil Nelson was applauded by Farm Bureau delegates when he introduced a resolution outlining the negatives of the Cap & Trade proposal in the House legislation, ranging from higher food and energy prices to sending our agricultural production to other countries. It passed by a unanimous voice vote.

Former Texas Democratic Congressman Charlie Stenholm brought hope to Farm Bureau members when he said the House bill in its present form would not make it through the Senate. He went on to say, however, that farmers and ranchers really need to stay in contact with their Senators and constantly remind them this is a bad piece of legislation for all Americans. I totally agree and urge you to follow through on Charlie's challenge. No action here means bad action down the road for all producers and consumers.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.